Profile: Sarah Dews ‘15 and Elizabeth Henle ‘14

Mia Council ’16
Features Editor

Around three years ago, Sarah Dews ’15 and the singing program she was then a part of performed in North Sandwich, N.H. “We made jokes about that. North Sandwich,” Dews said recently, picking at a gluten-free blueberry pancake flipped by Elizabeth Henle ’14, who had seen her by chance at that performance. Henle, then a rising sophomore at Smith, picked her out of the line-up. “I thought, ‘She looks a little Smith-y. She looks like a little Smithie.’”

“Aka a little lesbian,” said Dews, laughing.

“Then I was telling somebody else how I went to Smith and they were like oh, Sarah’s going to Smith in a few weeks. And I was like, who’s Sarah? And it was the Smithie.” Henle, who is from New Hampshire, was wearing blue and red striped boxers, and Dews, who is from Vermont, was wearing a brown striped shirt.

“I think that’s frickin’ cute,” said Elli Palmer ’16 from across the table, sitting down with a plate of eggs. “Smithie-spotting is a fun game.”

The two had an “awkward” conversation at that point. “I mean, the first conversation you ever have with anyone is always awkward,” said Dews. “And I’m just awkward talking to people, so.”

Later, the two New Englanders had a music class together, which turned out to be taught by a visiting professor who was a celebrity in the world of folk music. “God, he’s such a rock star. I died,” said Henle, whose WOZQ 91.9. radio show this semester is called Folks and Spoons.

“He wears boots,” added Dews.

“Always these fly boots,” finished Henle, looking up a photo of the professor on her iPhone to show everyone. “His voice knocks you on your ass.”

Despite their shared traits and experiences, the two haven’t spent enough time together to be called friends. “Our paths just haven’t crossed,” Dews explains, looking speculative. Dews lives in Chapin with some of her fellow Smithereens, while Henle lives in Tenney and knows a lot about making books. This comment sparked a broad discussion of friendships and how they form.

“If you make a good enough impression at first, then you get to know each other,” says Henle. “I wasn’t avoiding you,” she says hastily to Dews. “It’s weird how stuff happens,” Palmer sums it up, munching her eggs.

This analysis of social structures prompts Henle to tell a story about being at a gathering in Jordan House, where she had lived first year, and being forced into a photo of all the Jordanites in the room. “I didn’t want to be in that photo,” she said, frowning and straightening her septum piercing. Before Smith, she hadn’t been used to navigating uncomfortable social situations.

“Smith sure taught me!” said Henle. “About learning to negotiate the drams.” (Drama.)

“All the drams,” Dews agreed.

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